1 November 2010
East London Airport has officially opened an upgraded terminal capable of handling a million passengers a year and boasting more space for restaurants and parking, with government and local business hailing the development as an economic boon for the region.
National Transport Department acting chief operations officer Lawrence Venkile said the development was a “milestone” and central to the city’s economy.
“This development is not isolated to the economic growth of the city, but also adds value to the province,” Venkile told Dispatch Online on Friday.
Work was completed in April, even though it did not form part of South Africa’s 2010 Fifa World Cup plans.
East London Airport manager Michael Kernekamp said there had been major additions to the airport building. The space had been increased by 6 000m², and there were now 15 check-in points, a bigger departure lounge, and increased space for restaurants and parking.
He said that more than R100-million had been budgeted for the project.
Border-Kei Chamber of Business chief executive officer Les Holbrook said local businesses welcomed the development. “Through this development, investors are going to come and this will be great for businesses and the economy.”
Eastern Cape Transport MEC Gloria Barry said the development would meet passenger demands and help to maximise the capacity of other airports in the province.
The capacity of East London Airport stood at around 700 000 passengers a year before the upgrade, which could now increase to a million.
“The Eastern Cape has been struggling economically, and our four airports are strategically located to provide access to investors,” Barry said, challenging the Coega Industrial Development Zone and Port of Ngqura to “come on board”.
Barry said there were plans to get a connection from Cape Town to Mthatha, and East London Airport would also benefit.
Airports Company of South Africa managing director Monhla Hlahla said the development was a result of the partnership between the government and the company.